Into A New Decade

“The days may be long, but the year flies by.”

I can’t remember where I had read this from, or who had said this, but this line has a knack of reminding me during the rough and tough times in 2009.

I had meant to blog the final entry of 2009  in the last 30 minutes of the previous decade, but procrasinated. Guess it’s doesn’t matter anyway, time doesn’t stand still, it goes on and sometimes depending on the situation, slows down or speeds up. I think Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is so true, the concept of time, given all the different types of calendars, horological devices and the atomic clocks to keep time accurately, is just relative to you and I.

My life is pretty mundane since the birth of my firstborn, the same routine repeats itself each day. Wake up, feed TJ, spend a little time with him before going to work for the next 6-7h, grocery shopping on some afternoons, back home early on others, take TJ out for a little walk around the neighbourhood if the day is good, playtime with TJ, dinner time, bedtime. Some days, I would squeeze in a short gym session or go to the pool when the temps aren’t this low.

Even at work, I just want to finish all that is necessary on time, teach well and get ready to leave school on the dot so that I could get home and spend time with my two boys. 

My priorities have changed, my work/career doesn’t define me and therefore I am no longer ambitious to climb up the career ladder. I know I have missed the boat in 2004, if D hadn’t gotten the job in HK, I would have met the school supervisor in Aug 04 and be a IT HOD by now. Not that I really wanted that job, but I was grateful to have gotten the opportunity to try my hands managing that department for half a year and know if I had it in me to do so.

There isn’t any regrets really, since I reckon the exposure that D has with this overseas opportunity is more important than me staying on in the civil service. And besides, I could always return to MOE, even if I would not be on the same grade/salary level as my peers, but D would not have gotten another opportunity if he missed it.

One thing that is specific to us humans is that we have the ability to look back into the past and play God a little by thinking about what could have been.  I can’t believe 10 years have already passed me by as I went through life, sometimes happily and other times with complaints and grumbles.

Here’s a list of major and minor milestones in the last 10 years of my life.

1. Newly graduated  as I had to delay graduation for half a year cos I had to retake the darn Math module… no thanks to the Probability lecturer whom I learnt lots about lousy teaching (somewhere in end ’99)

2. Started teaching in a mainstream neighbourhood school for 2 yrs (Till Dec 2001).

3. Got a posting in GEP and continued specialising in Math for the next 3 yrs (Jan 2002 – Dec 2004)

4. Baptised by sprinkling (somewhere in 2001)

5. Helped out in church’s Sound Crew Ministry cos I was fascinated with live sound mixing (about 2 yrs between 2001-2003)

6. Got married on 8 Jun 2002 after 7 years of dating

7. Rode from Sgp to Northern Thailand for two weeks (Dec 2002) and fell feverish sick after the 100+km of endless corners and bends enroute to Mae Hong Song

8. Went through a period of uncertainty (D’s work issues) in end 2003

9. God cleared things up for D and gave him this overseas opening (Early 2004)

10. D moved to HK in Mar 2004, while I stayed on in Sgp for the remaining 9 months. Those were very long and lonely 9 months and I didn’t enjoy it.

11. Left for HK end 2004 and started teaching again in my current school the last week of Jan 2005.

12. Those 6 months, from Jan 05 to Jul 05, were really relaxing… mainly relief for 4 months and took over a teacher’s P3 class till the end of the academic year.

My last climbing trip in Dec 06 before TJ came along in 07

13. Got into “extreme” sports, sports climbing & scuba diving and travelled around.

14. Lived the life of a DINK… Double Income and No Kids. Life was good and fun, but after awhile, it felt empty. Well, at least, I know I felt my life was becoming empty and superficial.

15. Decided to complicate our lives with our spawn (Dec 2006). Not sure if it was ‘cos of the winter cold that drove both of us to make this decision, but it was a mutual one.

16. Firstborn on 16 Sep 07, and came back to Sgp to give birth… I don’t trust HK medical care and the private ones are way too expensive.

17. Stayed in Sgp at my mum’s for TJ’s first 5 months before moving back to HK after CNY 2008.

18. Took 10 months off to take care of TJ and figure out how to be a good first-time mum. (Sep 07 to Aug 08)

19. Hired our first helper when it was time to return to school (end Aug 08)and thank God she is a blessing.

20. TJ turned two in Sep 09 and we are thankful for everything, our health, our jobs, our lives as a young family living overseas.

D just mentioned that he had actually known me when I had the digit “1” in my year of age.  And now, the digit “3” has creeped up on me. Soon, it will be “4” … maybe I should seriously consider botox and some enhancement surgery on some of my body parts before the next digit comes up.

If the last decade is anything to go by, I am looking forward to the next 10 years. We are now in the stage of our lives that kids’ education plays a major part in our decision making. The thought of moving back to Sgp is becoming more enticing given the high costs of a decent English/Putonghua education in HK (something we will take for granted if we have been in Sgp), especially since D isn’t on an expat package.

Friends have been telling us not to wait too long to have another kid since the thought of being a parent from scratch will dissipate with time. We know we will have another, and that the family is complete with 2 kids, but we weren’t sure if we should jump into the 2nd babywagon too quickly without thinking through our future plans. We stopped ourselves in our tracks when monetary, job and personal issues enter our decision making.

TJ never likes to have his face cleaned ... scrunched his face & made me laugh

I know I have been wanting another kid for awhile now, not sure about D. Unlike D who thinks alot, I tend to be more impulsive and don’t like to think too far or think about things that may not happen. To me, it feels like a waste of time to think about all kinds of scenario, I tend to go with my gut feeling but it is a good thing that I have D to counter my seemingly crazed “Let’s Do It” character. He puts things in perspective for me, but never forcing me to think the way he does, and I suppose my “go by instincts” trait does rub off him too.

A thought suddenly came to me one day in Nov 2009 and I told D while on the way to work. Not sure if it was from God, or just my pathetic self trying to rationalise and convince D of my desire for a second kid. And the weird thing was that D had a similar thought, but his cautious character quickly stiffled it.

We had both thought that perhaps the one thing we are most afraid of isn’t actually the scariest thing to be afraid of. And perhaps if we just go ahead with the thing that we want (i.e. the 2nd kid), everything else will fall in place. Because God is waiting for us to relinquish the control back to Him (we are working on the premise that if He gives us a sign like a job opening back in Sgp, we will take it to mean it’s ok then to have a 2nd kid). I like to think that He has been waiting for us to just trust Him and go ahead with our initial plans, and be obedient to follow through whatever wonderful plans He has for us.

Seriously, this is a hard thing to do, relinquish our control. In fact after the decision has been made, subsequent sermons had reaffirmed the thought that had been planted in our minds weeks before and validated our decision. But frankly, I am still fraught with doubts at times, whether we are doing the right thing, whether the finances will work itself out especially if I will not be working for a few months again to take care of the new spawn, whether TJ will be a great brother and role model for his sibling, and gasp, whether twins would be a good idea. Ok, the last bit was just imagination, not from God really.

So it has been decided, after much discussion of possible scenarios that whether we stay on in HK or back home in Sgp, it should not be the determining factor of us having another kid. And if we are still staying put in HK, I have decided to go back to my kampung and deliver in TMC. Even the low cost of delivering at the HK public hospitals (about HK$500 altogether) isn’t enough to make me go there.

I’m not sure how things are going to play out in 2010 or the next 9 years for the matter. But I know things will be quite exciting, for all its good and bad. And more importantly, what we have learnt from the past decade is that God is faithful and knows what’s best for us, even if we don’t quite see it all the time. Faith, trust and love, three gifts I hope we continue to give and be given for many more decades to come.

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